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Inside Apple's iPhone 4S: 'S' is for Siri voice recognition

post #1 of 141
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Apple will bring voice control to the next level with this week's launch of the iPhone 4S, leveraging its acquired Siri technology to allow users to perform complex tasks by simply speaking aloud.

Leading up to this Friday's launch of the iPhone 4S, AppleInsider will offer a closer look at some of the features of the next-generation handset. Given that the 'S' in the device's moniker was never officially defined by Apple, five potential definitions are offered. Today: 'S' is for Siri voice control technology.

Siri: A history

Siri was originally a free application for the iPhone available on the App Store. The "personal assistant" software allows users to speak in natural language to accomplish tasks like buying tickets to a movie.

In addition to offering handsfree functionality, it was also pitched by the company as a time-saver. "No more endless clicking on links and pages to get things done on the Internet," the company's official website said in 2010. "Delegate the work to Siri and relax while Siri takes care of it for you."

In asking the Siri software to find a local Italian restaurant, the application would scour the Internet for multiple sources of information including reviews, maps, and the ability to share with others via e-mail. It could also obtain a reservation to a restaurant using OpenTable.

The technology so impressed Apple that it acquired Siri in April of 2010. Since then, Apple has been working to integrate the features in iOS 5, the operating system that powers the iPhone 4S.

Leveraging the power of the A5 processor, Siri will only work on the iPhone 4S. And because it's built into the operating system, Siri will offer much more than before, integrating with a user's contacts and calendars, and allowing them to accomplish complex tasks like composing an e-mail or sending a text message.



How it works

Apple has portrayed Siri as the ultimate voice recognition solution, fully replacing the "Voice Control" functionality that debuted with the iPhone 3GS in 2009. But unlike its predecessor, Siri allows users to talk to their iPhone as they would a person.

The technology in Siri allows users to speak to their iPhone 4S in natural language, much like having a conversation. For example, saying "Are there any good burger joints around here?" provides a list of local burger restaurants. The user could then follow up with "How about tacos?" and Siri remembers that the previous request was related to restaurants.

But from there, Siri goes beyond what was offered in its original incarnation on the App Store. Users could then text their friends about eating at the chosen restaurant, and set a calendar event for those plans. The system will even inform the user if there is a conflicting event on their calendar, and offer them the ability to reschedule.



"A lot of devices can recognize the words you say," Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice president for iOS Software said in an official promotional video. "But the ability to understand what you mean and act on it, that's the breakthrough with Siri. It completely changes the way you think about what a phone can do."

While Siri is powered by the A5 processor and the Siri software acquired by Apple, the company is also believed to have partnered with Nuance Communications, makers of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, to help understand users' voices. Neither Apple nor Nuance have confirmed that Nuance's technology is featured in Siri, however.

One person already has their hands on an iPhone 4S, and used it to show off some of its features on video, including the settings associated with Siri. In that video, it is shown that users will be able to invoke Siri by holding the iPhone's home button, or raising the iPhone 4S to their ear and speaking. The "Raise to Speak" function can be turned on or off in the settings.

The "Voice Feedback" feature of Siri, in which the system will speak back to the user, provide confirmations and ask questions, can also be changed from the iPhone's settings. In the video, Voice Feedback is set to "Always."

Users may also change the language for Siri. At launch, the feature will come with built-in support for English, German and French. The software will be in beta at launch, with more languages and services to be added over time.

Siri will work immediately on the iPhone 4S with no setup from users, but Apple executives promised at last week's keynote that the software "gets better" as it learns an individual person's voice.



How you'll use it

A comprehensive list of things that can be said to Siri was put together last week by TUAW. It shows that Siri has access to an iPhone's Address Book, Calendars, Alarms, E-mail, Friends, Maps, Messages, Music, Notes, Phone, Reminders, Stocks, Weather, and Web search.

Most of the potential uses in those categories are self-explanatory: Users can place phone calls, add events to their calendar, check the weather, set an alarm, compose an e-mail or text message, find directions, or play music.

Siri also ties into the new Find My Friends feature of iOS 5. Leveraging iCloud, it will allow friends and family to easily locate one another using iOS device features like GPS and 3G data. Potential commands include "Where is my sister?", "Is my wife at home?" and "Who is here?"



Using Siri, users can even specify which search engine they want to use in finding information on the Internet. Examples include "Google the War of 1812," "Search Wikipedia for Abraham Lincoln," or "Bing Alicia Keys."

Siri also allows users to specify what type of search they are interested in conducting, and understands commands like "search the news." Dynamic information such as currency exchange rates, the price of gasoline in Chicago, or the date of the next solar eclipse can also be obtained through Wolfram Alpha.

In a demonstration at last week's iPhone 4S, Forstall asked Siri how long until Christmas. The software responded: "82 days."

Siri also does dictation, as a microphone icon will appear anytime there is a keyboard on the screen. By tapping the microphone, users can speak rather than type.

The learning functionality of Siri can also be prompted by voice, as users can dictate data to the software, allowing it to learn personalized information like relationships. For example, a user can tell Siri the name of their mother so that commands such as "Call my mom" can be understood.

And if a user is unsure how to use Siri, they can even ask the system itself for help. Just ask Siri "What can you do?" to learn the full range of voice command options with the new iPhone 4S.
post #2 of 141
to me it will always be "iPhone 4 Steve"
post #3 of 141
The 4S is so smart it actually does everything a normal person can do but much faster and more efficiently.
post #4 of 141
Wonder when Mac OS X 10.7.n.S(iri) will be dropped. Speech needs work.
post #5 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssls6 View Post

to me it will always be "iPhone 4 Steve"
post #6 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Using Siri, users can even specify which search engine they want to use in finding information on the Internet. Examples include "Google the War of 1812," "Search Wikipedia for Abraham Lincoln," or "Bing Alicia Keys."

Wow, that Siri is powerful... it will even bing Alicia Keys for you.

Some tasks I think I'd like to reserve for myself, though....
post #7 of 141
Just imagine Apple incorporating, if they haven't already,SERI into iworks and ilife. Damn!
Can you imagine that?
This is going to take programming and task creation and management to the next level. OMFG!!!!
post #8 of 141
1) Cloud computing. No longer will we be restricted to one laptop or desktop for our documents, pictures, video, email, software, songs, art or anything else. Where we go, our stuff goes. On any device. iPhone, MacBook, iMac, iPad. Yes this technology existed in other devices, but as it was, it lacked functionality. The iOS 5 release changes that.

2) Artificial Intelligence. Siri on iPhone 4S lets us use our voices to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls all by talking the way we talk. Apple states that we are actually having a conversation with our iPhone. In reality, this is the first device that has a UI (user interface) that is verbal and functional throughout the core system. This technology has been around for a while, but it has never been applied properly and it was never very accurate. We have seen it is movies and our dreams, but that is where it stayed.

I can't wait.
MacBook Pro, iMac, iPad 2, iPhone 4S
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post #9 of 141
Siri will be a huge benefit to my New iPhone 4S 64GB in Black, purchase !!

Today, I am an avid/heavy user of Nuance Dragon Dictation, to do so much on my iPhone 4

It's true: with each s/w revision of DD and with continual use, the engine has literally learned my voice, dialect, and way of speaking English. It get's all my texts and dictations 100% correct, 99.8% of the time. It's a huge benefit to me while driving and in general, generating email replies and taking extended notes.

I will be putting my "new personal assistant" through boot camp over the next few weeks. Just hoping I can change her voice and avatar to my liking.

When the original iPad was announced, I predicted that it would sell millions upon millions of units, even when all the technophiles in all the Blogosphere were blowing it off, as a "Large iPod Touch"
The iPad CREATED a New Market. Literally.

Siri too will help sell millions upon millions of iPhone 4S's, dwarfing all iPhone sales to date !!!

It is a completely new way to interface with your Smartphone. Ways that are new, yet very easy and intuitive to users, and unlike anything available to the masses to date.

As Steve Jobs would say, "Let the copying begin", because Apple has yet again, set the bar.
post #10 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by zeromeus View Post

The 4S is so smart it actually does everything a normal person can do but much faster and more efficiently.

I'll reserve judgement until I try it in real life situations instead of a controlled environment.

Cue the fanboyz & girlz in 3...2...1
post #11 of 141
I highly doubt Siri will work as expected.

I've been trying to use voice recognition since the late 80's… everything from the original Dragon for Windows, up to iOS 4's built-in voice recognition and the Google App for iPhone's voice searches and Dragon for iPhone… and NONE of them have EVER been able to get voice recognition correct. Even Google Voice can't accurately translate voicemails that are left with 100% crystal clarity.

It takes sooooo long to try to get anything done via voice. I've wasted more hours than you can imagine trying to get my iPhone's voice apps to recognize what I'm saying. Frankly, voice recognition just isn't there yet.

I highly, highly, highly, HIGHLY doubt that Apple has nailed this… in fact, I think it's going to be a big black eye for them for releasing what will ultimately turn out to be a flawed piece of software that was rushed to market.

They should have waited 10-15 years to perfect this before bringing it to market.

It's going to be Antennagate all over again. Just watch. You heard it here first.
post #12 of 141
The things I'm hoping Siri does at some point?

"Siri, turn off Wi-Fi".

"Siri, turn down the brightness".

"Siri, turn on bluetooth".
post #13 of 141
Will Siri be able to control my calendar if it's set to use Google Calendar instead of iCloud?
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post #14 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by hamiltonrrwatch View Post

I'll reserve judgement until I try it in real life situations instead of a controlled environment.

Cue the fanboyz & girlz in 3...2...1

Totally agree with you!
post #15 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by scotty321 View Post

I highly doubt Siri will work as expected.

I've been trying to use voice recognition since the late 80's everything from the original Dragon for Windows, up to iOS 4's built-in voice recognition and the Google App for iPhone's voice searches and Dragon for iPhone and NONE of them have EVER been able to get voice recognition correct.

It takes sooooo long to try to get anything done via voice.

Even Google Voice can't accurately translate voicemails that were left with 100% crystal clarity.

I highly, highly, highly, highly doubt that Apple has nailed this in fact, I think it's going to be a big black eye for them for releasing what will ultimately turn out to be a flawed piece of software.

They should have waited 10-15 years to perfect this before bringing it to market.

It's going to be Antennagate all over again.

Because, you know, technology never advances. I'm sure glad we don't have touch screens on our phones, those things are buggy and SO inaccurate, and you need a stylus.
post #16 of 141
I really like the raise to head option. Doing that gives you more privacy (they cant hear what Siri says back), more accuracy (talking cleanly right into the mic) and more ability to seem halfway normal talking to your phone Because you could almost be just on a phone call if people arent listening in too closely.

This would remove most of the slight hesitation Id have about using Siri.
post #17 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple will bring voice control to the next level with this week's launch of the iPhone 4S, leveraging its acquired Siri technology to allow users to perform complex tasks by simply speaking aloud.



I've heard these sorts of claims many times in the past. Voice recognition and AI have been "the next big thing" since maturation of the GUI.

I hope that Apple has actually pulled it off this time around.


I find it interesting that Apple calls it Beta. Likely that will be used to deflect some critics of Siri's performance.
post #18 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by scotty321 View Post

I highly doubt Siri will work as expected.

I've been trying to use voice recognition since the late 80's… everything from the original Dragon for Windows, up to iOS 4's built-in voice recognition and the Google App for iPhone's voice searches and Dragon for iPhone… and NONE of them have EVER been able to get voice recognition correct. Even Google Voice can't accurately translate voicemails that are left with 100% crystal clarity.

It takes sooooo long to try to get anything done via voice. I've wasted more hours than you can imagine trying to get my iPhone's voice apps to recognize what I'm saying. Frankly, voice recognition just isn't there yet.

I highly, highly, highly, HIGHLY doubt that Apple has nailed this… in fact, I think it's going to be a big black eye for them for releasing what will ultimately turn out to be a flawed piece of software that was rushed to market.

They should have waited 10-15 years to perfect this before bringing it to market.

It's going to be Antennagate all over again. Just watch. You heard it here first.

SOMEONE has to nail voice control at some point. What makes you so sure Apple hasn't? Every demo, every hands-on so far has found it to work as advertised.
post #19 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

One person already has their hands on an iPhone 4S, and used it to show off some of its features on video, including the settings associated with Siri. In that video, it is shown that users will be able to invoke Siri by holding the iPhone's home button, or raising the iPhone 4S to their ear and speaking. The "Raise to Speak" function can be turned on or off in the settings.

This is good news. I'd still like a dedicated Assistant button on the side of the device opposite the volume/mute buttons, and one built into the headphones/bluetooth sets for instant access to Siri, but I'm glad to see this option. 2 seconds to wait for Siri to start it just too slow, IMO. Have already hated it for the simple Voice Controls and I expect to use Siri a lot.
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post #20 of 141
post #21 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post

The things I'm hoping Siri does at some point?

"Siri, turn off Wi-Fi".
.

At which point unless you've got a strong 3G signal Siri will stop working...
post #22 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post

The things I'm hoping Siri does at some point?

"Siri, turn off Wi-Fi".

"Siri, turn down the brightness".

"Siri, turn on bluetooth".


Yup. "turn off ringer and vibrate" because we want our phones on at night to sync wirelessly and to wake us up now that it's easy to set an alarm.
post #23 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by lukei View Post

At which point unless you've got a strong 3G signal Siri will stop working...

Localized (non-Internet) requests would still work.
post #24 of 141
I thought the 'S' meant Steve too

Siri could be a game changer for Apple as the Android world will find it difficult to copy it. I could see M$ giving Siri a better for it's money as it's been working on this type of technology for a long time and they exert much more control over their software.
post #25 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post

The things I'm hoping Siri does at some point?

"Siri, turn off Wi-Fi".

"Siri, turn down the brightness".

"Siri, turn on bluetooth".

Those are great ideas! Pretty much a handsfree option for everything in SBSettings on jailbroken iPhones.
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post #26 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by blilly View Post

Localized (non-Internet) requests would still work.

Would they, are you sure? Apple states it needs an internet connection to function.
post #27 of 141
"Siri, what's the best way to jailbreak my iPhone?"
post #28 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by cajun View Post

Wow, that Siri is powerful... it will even bing Alicia Keys for you.

Some tasks I think I'd like to reserve for myself, though....

+1. thats a good one. You are so right I don't need MS to mess that up.
post #29 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by cajun View Post

Wow, that Siri is powerful... it will even bing Alicia Keys for you.

Some tasks I think I'd like to reserve for myself, though....

And another euphemism is born.
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post #30 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post

The things I'm hoping Siri does at some point?

"Siri, turn off Wi-Fi".

"Siri, turn down the brightness".

"Siri, turn on bluetooth".

I will never understand why people obsess so intensely about having the ability to turn on and off things like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth without having to go to the "extreme" of opening up the standard settings app.

This is also the number one refrain of those who jailbreak their phones when asked for the reason why they do it (to have access to an app that allows quick changes of these settings). Why the f*ck would anyone want to spend all day fiddling with the network settings on their phone, turning them on and off etc. ? Do. Not. Get.

As far as I can see, the only reasonable answer is to save battery life, but I've never met anyone who had any kind of problem with the iPhone battery. It literally almost never runs out. I don't think mine has gone below 60% on any of the three iPhones I've owned, ever.

WTF are all you people doing that burns your battery so much that you have to pain yourselves with turning this crap on and off all day long? Don't you have better things to do with your time?
post #31 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post

The things I'm hoping Siri does at some point?

"Siri, turn off Wi-Fi".

"Siri, turn down the brightness".

"Siri, turn on bluetooth".

Good ones. BT is too deep in Settings.

I also hope I'll be able to dictate into the search field of third party apps.

Like, "Search Evernote for packing list." Or "Search Dropbox for expense reports"
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post #32 of 141
Wonder if Apple grows tired of Siri like they did with other things.

Sherlock.
Isync
Pairing you OSX to you mobile phone. When someone called you. The number was shown on the computer screen. Send SMS from the computer via bluetooth/phone
Updating the iPod classic (320 gig drives have existed since 2009 making 640 gig iPod)
Universal binaries. (why remove this? Could have been used to run OSX on ARM)
Rosetta
Iweb
Itools
Having your bookmarks on .mac (great to have your personal web bookmarks that you can access from work)
Photo sharing/groups and all that stuff in MobileMe.
Xserve
Xraid (would be perfect with thunderbolt)

and loads more.
post #33 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by karmadave View Post

I thought the 'S' meant Steve too

Siri could be a game changer for Apple as the Android world will find it difficult to copy it. I could see M$ giving Siri a better for it's money as it's been working on this type of technology for a long time and they exert much more control over their software.

I'm no Fandroid but there are already "off handset" translation services for that OS. Doesn't take much to connect those to a search engine and provide an API to do what Apple is doing.

Personal opinion is that Siri is a niche application. Interesting demonstration of technology but niche.
post #34 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


WTF are all you people doing that burns your battery so much that you have to pain yourselves with turning this crap on and off all day long? Don't you have better things to do with your time?

Making/Receiving Email and making/receiving phone calls? My iPhone 4 lasts until about 15:00 until it needs a recharge. But I agree I'd rather do that than spend time turning wifi etc on/off!
post #35 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post

The things I'm hoping Siri does at some point?

"Siri, turn off Wi-Fi".

"Siri, turn down the brightness".

"Siri, turn on bluetooth".

I don't think Siri will turn off Wi-fi - it needs to be connected with Apple servers to work ( http://bit.ly/nbVTZ0).
post #36 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post

The things I'm hoping Siri does at some point?

"Siri, turn off Wi-Fi".

"Siri, turn down the brightness".

"Siri, turn on bluetooth".

locate captain picard ...
post #37 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

I will never understand why people obsess so intensely about having the ability to turn on and off things like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth without having to go to the "extreme" of opening up the standard settings app.

This is also the number one refrain of those who jailbreak their phones when asked for the reason why they do it (to have access to an app that allows quick changes of these settings). Why the f*ck would anyone want to spend all day fiddling with the network settings on their phone, turning them on and off etc. ? Do. Not. Get.

As far as I can see, the only reasonable answer is to save battery life, but I've never met anyone who had any kind of problem with the iPhone battery. It literally almost never runs out. I don't think mine has gone below 60% on any of the three iPhones I've owned, ever.

WTF are all you people doing that burns your battery so much that you have to pain yourselves with turning this crap on and off all day long? Don't you have better things to do with your time?

The iPhone 4 battery is quite good, possibly best in class. But as for "It literally almost never runs out"? That's quite an exaggeration, with all due respect.
post #38 of 141
I hope eventually the GPS Apps out there like Tom Tom are able to access Siri. Or I can see Apple utilizing the Maps App to speak aloud driving directions to you. That would be awesome!
post #39 of 141
I wish this worked on my iPad2. I would love to have Siri do task for me. Crap \
post #40 of 141
I just want to be sure it will always open my pod door......

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